Press release Hubrecht Institute

Forming model embryos from stem cells in the lab

3 May 2018

Scientists from the MERLN Institute and the Hubrecht Institute (KNAW) have successfully created in the laboratory embryo-like structures from mouse stem cells. These model embryos resemble natural ones to the extent that, for the first time, they implant into the uterus and initiate pregnancy. 

This radically new method opens the door to understanding the first and hidden processes of life, problems of infertility, or the embryonic origin of diseases. This scientific breakthrough has been published in Nature.

Opening the black box of early pregnancy

We still know very little about how early embryos develop, due to their small size (the width of a hair) and inaccessibility in the womb. Such knowledge is however vital as minor flaws at the start of pregnancy can prevent the embryo to implant in utero or contribute to diseases during adult life. Researchers have now discovered how to build model embryos in the laboratory from stem cells. Leader of the scientific team Dr. Nicolas Rivron (MERLN Institute and Hubrecht Institute): 'Our research helps to understand the perfect path an early embryo must take for a healthy development.'

More information

Website Hubecht Institute

Hubrecht Institute

The Hubrecht Institute – an Academy research institute – focused on developmental and stem cell biology. It encompasses 20 research groups that perform fundamental and multidisciplinary research, both in healthy systems and disease models. Since 2008, the institute is affiliated with the University Medical Center Utrecht, advancing the translation of research to the clinic. The Hubrecht Institute has a partnership with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL).

Logo Hubrecht Instituut